Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:00:05] Welcome to episode 57 of The Sell My Business Podcast.
Ann Fryer is on a mission to inspire you to live purposefully and invest in your future. With a people-first leadership style, Ann has always believed that the most important brand you build is yourself.
Ann guides individuals and teams to uncover their inherent purpose by nurturing and honing strengths, talents, and ambitions. By empowering others, she has created a community of professionals who are maximizing their potential.
Voted as the kindest girl in her elementary school, she has always understood that compassion and connection are the bonds that unite. Making us healthier and happier in the process. For the past 20 years, Ann has been applying her storytelling and organizational excellence in a career building luxury and lifestyle brands.
Her natural ability for creating memorable partnerships and experiences that capture the imagination and spark conversation afforded her the opportunity to work with iconic brands from Johnnie Walker and Absolute Vodka to JW Marriott and W Hotels. Ann was that the forefront of the content-driven experiential movement, and today is recognized as a thought leader in the purpose-driven landscape.
Ann is currently the Senior Vice President, Partnerships, Promotions, and Events at CBS.
Anne was born in South Africa and raised in Europe and the United States and splits her time between New York City and the idyllic New England town of New Canaan, Connecticut. She finds solace and respite in nature, conscious home design, and global exploration. Ann is a graduate of Hamilton College.
Ann welcome to the Sell My Business Podcast. I'm so excited to have you here. When we first started talking about having you on the podcast you were doing one thing, and then you said, Jeffrey, I can't tell you what's happening other than it's really good. It's big. And it's exciting. Can we postpone it?
And we did. And here we are today. And so why don't we start off with what you're doing today in this new, exciting, incredible opportunity that you have on the branding side and the marketing side, and just making the world a better place.
Ann Fryer: [00:02:25] Hi, Jeffrey. So, lovely to see you again. It was such an honor to meet you last year, and I can't believe where we are today. it's been an amazing whirlwind. Just want to say hello to your incredible audience. yes. I've been in brand building for close to 20 years working on the agency side and then at large multinational firms, I've worked at Pernod Ricard working on incredible brands like Jamison and Glenlivet and Absolute and Royal Salute. And back to the agency side. And then for the past four years, found myself at Marriott International, where I was leading, partnerships for our amazing luxury brand portfolios. So, brands such as W Hotels and the Luxury Collection focused on brand partnerships and experiences, focused on our guests.
And then we all know what happened in the past year which has been so hard. for so many businesses specifically, the one I worked in hospitality and travels. So, in that time, during furlough, which I always liked to speak openly about, I thought, what gifts do I have that. I can use now to give to anyone in my circle?
And for me, it's the personal brand. If you understand your brand as a founder, as a business owner, as an entrepreneur, as someone that is starting out, just fresh out of college. You understand your North star and your core values and who you are and what worth you bring. everyone sees you in a different light. They see your light shining. So, I actually, as dorky as it sounds, for many years have been certified in resume writing. No one enjoys resumes. It's not the actual resume. I'm also certified in LinkedIn profiles. Again, not sexy at all. Those are the tactics behind understanding, how to have someone share their story, their narrative, and then ultimately their business story. Very excited to share last year I finished with, 75 clients that I had the incredible opportunity, to work with and just listen to their story and figure out ways that we could have them shine bright. And through the process of doing some of the most meaningful work I've ever done, to highlight what you just shared.
I got one call that really turned my world upside down and inside out in the best way possible. I started at CBS, the iconic CBS, leading partnerships, promotions, and events across CBS Entertainment, CBS News, CBS Sports, and CBS Studios working with the most brilliant and creative, team, to add value and energize this iconic brand that's over 90 years old. That's the long-winded answer.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:05:30] Wow. What a story. And on behalf of the entire Deep Wealth community, congratulations, that is mammoth. And something that's really well-deserved. So, for our listeners out there, I hope you are paying close attention. As Ann was talking about her background with brands and luxury brands, my mind was just imagining and going back to all kinds of terrific magic moments as I like to call them.
But here's the thing for our listeners. Ann, maybe you can help us with this question. I'm sure some listeners are saying well, Ann that's fine and good that you did that. And those are really large brands, but I'm in a smaller business or a family business, and I'm not a large brand. Why does branding even matter?
And I know offline Ann you and I were talking about how branding, maybe you hit it out of the park in your business, and that's why you're successful. Maybe you didn't. But when it comes to your liquidity event, For your future buyer, for your investment banker for your advisory team, you better rethink about branding because that's huge for your success.
So, what would you say to the business owner who simply says I'm just a small company. It doesn't matter.
Ann Fryer: [00:06:40] Yeah, that's an excellent question. Thank you. Of course, I highlighted the amazing large brands I worked on, but for your listeners just so you know, I also have had the incredible opportunity to work on. Smaller niche brands that are looking for a larger audience and have the incredible opportunity to sit on advisory councils and boards for emerging brands that are looking to become the next big brand that I've had the opportunity to work on.
And I think without having a brand, whether you're a product or a service it's incredibly hard for anyone that's trying to get to know you to understand the value of what you bring. We are all. Visual. We use our five senses, obviously visual being one of them to figure out what we like and how we feel.
And it's Maya Angelo's quote. It's not what you say. It's not what you did. It's how you feel and brands and a brand story and core values behind the brand, help your audience understand why you, why now when you have such a huge, large competitive landscape, and you can have that. Across all small businesses, whether you're 10, 100, or 1000 it depends on how you define small in your specific industry.
If you can't have someone understand why you, they are just going to go for the other brand and it's so niche, but it comes down to all the core If I am confused with your story and how you share that story about your brand Jeffrey I'll go straight to the next brand. I won't consider you for me.
Simplicity is the most important when it comes to telling a brand. And I think if you share a complicated story, I actually have reservations that you might not actually understand what you're selling and why you're selling it. So, understanding your value proposition, which we in marketing love, talking all our big sort of marketing and brand marketing.
We talk about our brand architecture and our North Star and our mission and our purpose. But at the end of the day, it's, what's your purpose? can you put that in one sentence? What are your brand pillars and how are you ultimately going to then sell your product or service, to the audience that you're focused on? I judge brands on their brand I don't think it's just because I'm in branding. I have so many people say, what does luxury mean versus what does aspirational, what does lifestyle, if people don't understand your brand, no matter what the size is. I think they're going to struggle in adopting, that product or service
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:09:34] What you're saying is right, really right out of the Deep Wealth playbook at so many levels. And for our listeners out there, I'm going to ask you a bit of a rhetorical question, but this gets right to the heart of what Ann just said.
When you're doing business with someone, if you had a choice, would you rather do business with a stranger or business with a friend? A bit of a rhetorical question, a loaded question for sure. But the answer is always, I want to do business with a friend. Ann with what you're saying, when done well, a brand makes you feel things. And has a familiarity with that company that you feel friendly towards a company that you want to do business with that company.
So, with that in mind and we're definitely now on the art side of a liquidity event, not the science side, but so much of enterprise value is not in a complicated formula in some kind of a spreadsheet.
So, for a business owner, who's thinking, okay, Ann, you've sold me on the importance of a brand. I get it. A brand helps people become familiar with a company and makes them want to do business with a company. Or in this case. The right kind of branding would have an investment banker who wants to be part of my deal or a future buyer pay top dollar for the business.
Where would a business owner start on creating a brand in the first place of one isn't there?
Ann Fryer: [00:10:50] Excellent question. I love that question. I think it starts with the business owner and the founder first. I think, understanding. Your story is imperative when I work with a lot of small businesses and, they are seeing, and feeling interest from investment bankers, from VCs, they start with, who's running the company. what are their core values? Are they powering this company forward? What's their story and why should we get behind them? So, I always say, before you even look at the brand or the service that you're working on, let's look at your leadership team. Let's make sure that you understand whether it's one business owner, there's a handful of founders. Do we understand why you, why now and why your story? So, I like to get complete clarity when I'm working with any small business, or sitting as an advisor. Before I even look at a product or brand, I'm interested in buying. I want to understand why that business owner has that product. So, I think for your listeners, Jeffery, So, many of them, probably all of them right now, and I can feel it, working 24 hours, seven days a week, they're running a business.
I don't have time. This doesn't matter to me. I don't need to be involved. I've got an amazing team that just gets things done. Everyone at the end of the day looks at them. They're looking up to them. They want to understand why they are so heavily invested in doing what they're doing. I'm working with a couple of clients before I took on this current role who were running massive teams. they didn't know even what their story was or what their core values were or how their teams should look up to them before they even looked at what brand they wanted to create for the company that they're running.
So, start with your own story. And there are so many ways to do that. I said, first of all, find someone who can write your story for you, who writes your narrative. Bios for me are so important and I think they're completely overlooked and it sounds so incredibly simple, but it actually goes back to the simplicity statement I made earlier.
If I'm interested in your company or business, you better be telling an amazing story. At the end of the day, I buy brands because of the story they're telling. So, let's start with the business owner that's, running the business. A creative writer, any creative agency out there can tell your story, pull out what makes you different, where I work now, where I've worked in the past, what you're doing, we're storytellers, people buy brands and products and businesses because of the stories that are being shared. Tip number one, start with your own story. Get clarity on that. And then I think when you look at the brand for the business, you have. Start with understanding the why behind the business. So, why this business and why your business. And I think it should be three sorts of people is that you can go five, you can go seven, but what makes you stand out?
What makes you different from the competition? And that's something you should be able to do as a team. I don't even think you necessarily need to bring anyone from the outside. You can at a later stage, if. You across your company from the coordinator to your CFO, from the associate to your marketing manager, if they don't understand the why behind what you're doing, you’re doing it wrong.
And there's a famous story when, a gentleman, went to NASA and asked the janitor what's your role in all of this? I'm putting a man on the moon. Everyone understands the mission behind NASA It doesn't matter what your role is. So, I think start with your team and make sure that every single.
employee every single associate understands your purpose statements. So, come up with, you can call it a mission statement, a purpose statement, what's your North star, and then the values behind that and how you're going to get there.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:14:57] Ann that is absolutely stellar advice. And really for our listeners, when you go back to it, you already know this. So, for listeners, I'm going to ask you a question. Go back in time. So, when a business owner starts a business, it's likely that the business owners started the business because he or she was passionate about solving a problem. And you solve that problem and you solved it so well that it went from a dream into a reality and your customers became raving fans. And next thing you knew you were hiring employees and the business began to grow. And soon you're profitable. And sadly, for most business owners, that's where it stops because, Ann you said something earlier, that is, unfortunately, more the truth than it should be.
Most business owners are too busy working in the business than working on the business. So, for the business owners out there, one of the Deep Wealth principles is, does your business run without you? Because when it does number one, you can have a prosperous liquidity event.
But it allows you to do what Anne is talking about on the branding side, you can go out and find the next new problem that you're passionate to solve. Create a market disruption, ensure longevity for the business, increase your revenues, increase your profits. And it's a good news story all around.
But let's go back to one thing that you're saying. People buy on emotion first and then I'll add to that. They buy emotion first and they justify it with logic later. What's your take on that? Is that truth or fiction from your perspective?
Ann Fryer: [00:16:26] Yeah, a hundred percent truth. If everything's based off emotion for me. And I think for nearly everyone, you could have the most incredible business, the first-class product service team. And if the story. Is not there if it's not shared. And I say credibility, consistency, and simplicity. I'll look past it.
And I think so many people do, and I think there are so many incredible, amazing businesses out there that don't have a brand. And because they don't have a brand and people don't feel connected to it and don't have an emotional connection to what they're buying or why they should buy it. They'll just go to.
The next product. I think there's so much behind the brand and the story you're sharing. And for me, when I say consistency, I mean across the entire brand story and all your platforms, people overlook a visual ID. and a style of a brand Jeffrey And I think if you're disconnected on what you're doing on your social platforms, the story you're telling the media, what you're writing on your website.
If it's not one consistent cohesive message and story. Your audience starts to wonder if you're credible. Do they know what they're doing? Do they understand their own story and product? and I think we put so much noise out there and I'd see this in a lot of marketing as well. The more we share, the more we do.
The bigger, the impact. And I actually think it's the complete opposite. I think if you have simplicity in the messaging, you're sharing and consistency, people are going to be able to trust you and trust your brand more. and so, I think for your audience, keep doing what you're doing because you're doing an unbelievable and an amazing job.
And you're building these incredible businesses, but you could be building them in a silo. If your audience doesn't feel connected to what you're creating and don't really see you or understand the authenticity and the brand behind it.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:18:33] Ann, you really are resonating at so many levels here. And you said something interesting. So, you're talking about authenticity for credibility. You're also talking about the culture around the brand. And so, when you gave that NASA story of how, even the janitor up to the higher-ups at NASA, they all knew what the mission was. I suspect all too often, we have an owner or a president or CEO of a company who says the right things. But then as a potential customer, when you speak to the rank and file, you're not hearing that. It's a different story. So, when a business owner is creating that brand or enhancing that brand. What should he or she be doing to ensure that is not a brand-building exercise of one? That it's actually the entire company who knows this.
Ann Fryer: [00:19:20] No. I love that. Yeah, it does come down to culture. I think right now we all want to create customer-centric brands. The customer comes first and it's the 360 and sort of that life cycle and not going into sort of marketing spiel or words, we over-complicate things. It starts internally. Jeffrey. It starts with your own culture.
I've been and seen too many experiences where brands talk about their story and they have incredible messaging written about diversity and inclusion and team and culture. And when I look at the core of the brand and the team, it's not actually happening inside the company. And I think before you even.
Write your own story, spend a lot of time on your own culture and your own story, and make sure that you're working with your own team. your key leaders in your team, make sure that. whatever the core values you have as a team, as a company, are you really focused on them because your customers can feel authenticity?
So, you can be saying one thing to them and sharing why you should be building or buying something that they're a part of keep buying X kept doing. Y but if you're not doing it internally, I think of a ton of the fabric of what you're creating falls down. So, for me, I'm always looking to build culture inside. your greatest brand ambassadors are your associates. And I never even say staff, your associates, your team, every single person needs to have skin in the game. I want to proudly wear that brand logo. I want to proudly be a spokesperson.
You should feel comfortable that every single person knew your company. So, proudly. wants to share the story of that company. whether it's a story of the business owner or what the brand's doing, it doesn't matter. You could work in accounting. you could work in data. You could be the receptionist.
I want to see the positivity and light for what you're doing. if I came in and had never met anyone and found someone in that office, I want them to be shedding light on what you're doing.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:21:40] Wow. That is just so powerful. And for the business owners, I hope you're listening to this. And, when we look at the nine-step roadmap here at Deep Wealth, what Anne is talking about, and she's just hitting it out of the park on every point. She's talking about the roadmap, step number two, X-Factors where you're building your narrative of what you're going to be doing in the future.
She's talking all about your future buyer, of how you're going to identify the problem of your future buyer that you're solving. And communicate that narrative to the buyer. And then she's also talking about one of my favorite steps, step number eight, where you take your hidden Rembrandts out of the attic on for public display through your narrative.
So, that narrative is absolutely key and it's an essential component in all of what we're doing. Ann let me ask you this. Based on your experience, would I be off base in saying that a liquidity event would be like its own marketing campaign? It's like its own unique set of prospective customers that you're going to be marketing to. It's a different kind of market, but it's a marketing campaign in and of itself.
And it needs that brand, that narrative, that story, all of the elements that you're talking about to really be successful. Where would you stand on that?
Ann Fryer: [00:22:53] Yes. You took the words out of my mouth beautifully said. It's a hundred percent of marketing pain. It's an integrated campaign where all touchpoints need to be a part of the story, you're going to share for your liquidity event. If you don't have that, and someone comes in and doesn't understand.
that you've thought through all those prongs in the story you're going to share. It's going to be very hard for people to understand why you, why your business. And so, I think it's taking your key team and making sure that you're about to launch something out. Just imagine you're launching that campaign.
That's going to be on the next. billboard. It's going to be across all platforms. It will be on TV. It will be on all social channels. What do you want to share? Why are you sharing it? And what is the message you want to get across? you can't build a campaign without understanding that narrative, that story, and your brand.
So, you want to entice and get your audience excited. It goes back to what you said earlier. how do you get people emotionally connected? I want to see one thing and go. I want to learn more. I want to dive deeper. I want to understand why I should not go and talk to anyone else, but you, and that's something you get to do as a team and build out all those prongs, for your core story and narrative to share, in that time. And it's interesting because it's so true what you said simplicity is something that's essential and all of us have been there. Perhaps you read a company's vision or mission statement. And it's a lot of words that don't say anything. It can be a page of words. It's complicated.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:24:29] It doesn't say anything it's confusing. And so in that specific instance, an opportunity has been lost. So, when crafting the narrative and thinking about the brand and the messaging in general, what are your secrets that you can reveal to us of how do we keep it simple and not to confuse simplicity with simple.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, said one of my favorite quotes. I'm sorry I had to write you such a long letter. If I had more time, it would have been shorter. And it just hits home on that point. So, what are some of the strategies that we can do to keep it simple but meaningful?
Ann Fryer: [00:25:07] Yeah, I love that. I think it's understanding what is the impact ultimately you want to create and how you're going to get there. And so, I believe. For any company that is partnering together, powering forward, and promoting good, and with those three Ps, you can figure out what you ultimately hope to do as a company, as a brand, as a service. I like to find one program, one platform that's going to show true impact. So, I don't ever want a company to just be a press release. I don't want to, just to be something that you're looking to do to get media impressions. I think now Jeffrey, everyone, all consumers all audiences out there want to be behind.
Companies that are doing good. And that can mean anything. You don't have to be the American Red Cross. You don't have to be a nonprofit. I think people want to understand the impact that a company will be making on their community around, a social impact initiative. So, as simple as it sounds, I think, make sure with any brand or service that you're creating. That your story can touch everyone in a deep way. And I think we all have a civic duty to make sure we're building incredible companies with incredible teams that we are doing more than just the company. People will get behind companies that are powering forward and doing better. we have this one incredible opportunity when you're a business owner and I believe when people are looking at your business today, more so than. Any other time in society that they want businesses that understand that they can make a greater impact than just profit. of course, profit is ultimate, but I think its profit combined with purpose.
And so, figure out what that looks like for your company. And, I think your door will never stop getting knocked on,
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:27:22] Profit and purpose. Very powerful words that you're using there. And there's been a whole movement for social capitalism, where we can be profitable and we do something good for society. We give back to society. And I think what's interesting. Ann, for business owners, they have two kicks at the can to do this.
So, right now with their business, getting behind some kind of a social cause or something to make society better with the business. And then when you think about it, and this is really one of our core values at Deep Wealth, when we help a business owner to not only have a successful liquidity event but exceed all expectations.
In other words, they've just hit it out of the park. They've gotten more money than they ever would have expected. Although we can't tell people what to do. Our hope is that once they've taken care of themselves financially. For themselves, their loved ones for the rest of their lives that they'll say, Hey, I have all this excess capital I likely wouldn't have had otherwise let me find a social cause that I can make an impact on.
Let me find some kind of charity or maybe I'll set up a foundation where I can take proceeds and make a difference with that. And obviously, that's voluntary and our focus here at Deep Wealth is putting you in that position to do that with as high at enterprise value as you can. But that's really inspiring in terms of what you're saying there Ann of having that kind of impact.
So, as we sit here right now in this conversation, we are in the midst of a pandemic, the Coronavirus pandemic, and it's been here for quite some time. There is light at the end of the tunnel. But, we're not quite there yet.
And so from your perspective, how has this changed the marketplace in terms of getting your narrative out there? Having people look to your company, perhaps in a different light, and it's easy to talk about the downside, but what's the upside? What are the opportunities that are there for the taking?
Ann Fryer: [00:29:17] Excellent question. it has been such a hard year for, everyone and our communities my heart goes out to anyone that's suffering or has been suffering, from perspective around businesses and what we can do. I actually think there's never been so much focus as there is today. we get so. Bogged down in our everyday lives. And I'm sure you can imagine this time last year, Jeffrey and everyone is traveling and we're racing around, to so many things that keep our lives so busy. Now today, all business owners, whether you working at your own company or you're working for a large multinational firm, we're all at home, hopefully at home or working and there's different noise and there are different complications that it brings.
But I also think it's an opportunity where we can connect with our team leaders on priorities that the company might have Not focused on because there were so many things happening that were keeping us all separated and apart, I hope so many business owners can take the opportunity now while we don't have the commitments of what we did in a year and years ago to laser focus in on what's important to them and make. A plan. I'm a planner. And if you don't have your North Star, and I know we all build out our business plans, hopefully, and I do this, whether it's new employees, but you have your 30, 60, 90-day plan, you understand what your goals look like as a business, take conscientious, intentional time to figure out what the goals are for the business.
I think we write them down. I think sometimes in the past, and this is just my humble opinion, what I've experienced. I can't speak for the listeners, but we've written out goals out quickly without intention. And so, I think now is the perfect time to look at this calendar year. and put markers in the. Sand and figuring out what does that look like? So, if you don't have a brand, or you don't feel that you have a brand identity or social guide that you're not all beating to the same drum. Now's the time I've seen an incredible amount of work where businesses are putting in standard operating procedures, we're all working from home.
Now, are we all setup, to continue something like this in the future? so I think, take the time now to be conscientious and what your goals are, what your markers are, and what you can do to successfully continue to build a brand. If you don't have one or build one from scratch. Ann, it's interesting with a few things that you've said. Let's dive into the experience that you had with the large brands. The one thing that you can say with absolute certainty, they've done something right to be there year in and year out. And there's a lot that we can learn as smaller businesses from those larger entities. As you pointed out, we're here in the pandemic, most people are working remotely. What can we learn for building a remote culture where we're not at the office together? There is no water cooler chat like it used to happen.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:32:32] So, taking from your experience from the larger brands, are there any strategies that we can use as business owners for our teams that are remote to build that rich kind of culture, where the legacy of the company is being formed while we're doing that?
Ann Fryer: [00:32:46] I love that because I'm going through that right now at this new company, I've actually never met anyone. So, I'm trying to figure out how do I connect and build and bond relationships with my peers, with my teams that are all working from home, all across the country and the globe. I think we have to remember different things, impact people in different ways. So, we have a process in place where we have our own. team rules it has nothing to do. What's going in a brand deck. It has nothing to do with the core values it's individually. What does that look like for each person? feedback is incredibly hard to share and I think there's a breakdown in teams and team culture.
When we don't understand what impacts you, Jeffery is very different from what impacts me and ultimately. Culture for me is everything. I think a lot of success for a brand sits on culture and that culture you create. So, asking thoughtful and intentional questions now are people at home, are you okay that a family member pops in on them zoom call or a pet or a child? what does that look like? And as a leader set the tone of what you like and listen with your team. Small, teeny little nuances. I've seen this happen. I've talked to friends and mentors. What are your collaboration tools? So, we're using Slack right now. that caused so much anxiety for so many people who felt this isn't a collaboration tool, which was the intention of ensuring we're all on it.
It felt untethered to this. Collaboration tool to make sure that I'm sitting at my desk at all times. So, go one step deeper. What does that collaboration tool mean to you? Talk to your team about why you have it. Are you okay? That they went for a walk? It's so small and it seems so insignificant, but having those open, thoughtful conversations where the entire team can understand why a thing is being implemented to make the work-life balance easier. But then how are you going to use it and utilize it as a team. I think we also have to remember different personality types are coming up differently in this new working environment. You have introverts, you have extroverts, you have people that have never met teams and people that have worked with teams for 20 years, and everyone communicates how they're feeling and how they're feeling. differently. So, I think as leaders and business owners make time for each and everyone that you possibly can and give them the platform to share and voice people, and you do such a brilliant job at this Jeffrey. And one of the things I admire most about you, I think It's an honor to have someone listen to your story, to have the platform, to share how you're feeling.
So, many people bottle so many things up because they don't have the platform just to share how they're feeling. They're not looking for a quick fix. They just want you to know how they're feeling. And it goes back to your original point about building a brand and building a brand with emotion. It starts with you as a business owner, as a leader.
Are you there? Are you open? Are you collaborative for your team and for your team to come to you? and to share. I think that's how you ultimately build a culture. And then your brand has core values. It has colors. It has a style guide. Those are the tactics behind building a brand, but a brand and the brand feeling is built on the culture you build, as a business owner. And I believe the buck stops with you. It stops at the top, and I applaud those leaders that have an Open zoom policy. if I have to leave a tip for anyone here, I have two hours of my calendar a week that are just open and anyone, whether I still have standing one-on-one meetings or team meetings, but anyone across the organization that feels like they want to pop in and have a conversation they know that is open no matter what each week and every week.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:37:08] Everything that you're describing from a cultural perspective, even yourself, you have an open two hours a week. Anyone can come in and have a Zoom session with you remotely. That is a brand. That is your brand that you're establishing yourself now at CBS and the new company. And you don't know your teammates personally at this point. But you're already setting out, Hey, this is who I am. This is what I'm all about. Here are my values. And let's build from that and become a team and move out from there. So, I love that. So, let me ask you this from a branding perspective, and for our listeners, I hope you've been taking close notes here because everything that Ann is talking about is really in every step of the nine-step roadmap.
I'm even going to fast forward to step number seven of the nine separate roadmap, what we call timing and execution. So, you've had a successful liquidity event. The deal is now closed, but now it's time to communicate this to your employees. To all the stakeholders in the business. Your customers, your suppliers, maybe your board of directors. Perhaps you have some investors, and this is really where the rubber hits the road.
And your brand and your ability to tell a narrative that's compelling, that's filled with hope and inspiration. Your new owner is counting on that. I suspect you're probably legally going to have some obligations to ensure that there's a smooth transition and the company goes off without a hitch. So, if you think that branding is just for marketing and it's just for sales, absolutely not.
It's at the core of everything that you do. And specifically at the core of a liquidity event, your ability to brand yourself, your company. Tell a great narrative. It's at the heart of everything. So, let me ask you this Ann, from a branding perspective and with your vast experience from the startups to the Titans of business out there and everyone else in between, if you had to highlight three things that you should absolutely not do when building a brand or enhancing a brand, what would that be?
Ann Fryer: [00:39:13] Good question. I think the first not to do is not including the team. There's that belief branding oh, that's great. That's my CMO. He or she will do that. Branding great. I'm going to hire an agency and they'll just figure out what my brand looks like. And I'll check that box.
I have a deck and I have some fun colors and it goes back to your point. A brand is an emotion. It's a feeling. Yes, we are building an actual brand that look and feel. Every single one of your associates is part of the fabric of your brand. And make sure there is a platform, whether it’s an open forum where they can send in feedback.
But if you don't feel you have that traditional sense of what a brand is and you want to build it, I would applaud you all, if you can make sure that you have that space where if I don't mind if it's 10 people or a thousand people feel that they were asked their thoughts and opinions on the brand that you want to hopefully work towards.
Make sure you communicate. Communicate. And make sure everyone has a platform to share why they love you, your company and what they do, and what they hope that brand and brand culture will look like, feel like and be like together.
Second, so that I say powering together really important. I think the second one not to do is goals, which I touched on earlier. I think if you look at the short term, it's very hard for people to know where they're going. And I find so many amazing leaders, incredible leaders, because there are so incredibly busy are only talking to manage, abound the ultimate goal for the company and what they hope for.
And I think that's where rumors start and people get anxious and that people might start looking for new jobs. I think outline the goals for the company clearly and visibly. Have them out there from the very top, make sure every single employee that joins your team from day one understands what they're joining and why they're joining it.
And then take someone that's been with you for 10 years. Make sure no matter what their role is, they understand what they're working towards. So, to answer your question, don't not have goals. Goals are incredibly important, and I think sometimes really overlooked in a company and how they're communicated.
And then I think third, don't have a closed-door policy. I think the best, most successful leaders are the leaders that speak from their heart and share what they're doing, and more importantly, what they're doing wrong. I guess I never wanted to say right versus wrong because it's all just learning in life.
And I think you put so much pressure on everyone. I think whoever's looking to buy your business. Anyone who's a part of building your business, your stakeholders, your investors. They want you to speak from the heart. They want to understand how they can support you and be there for you. And I think for so many years, Jeffrey, we've put up a wall about sharing, just what's going well.
And I think we need to create environments and atmosphere. We're all just human. And when you humanize running a business, I think you give everyone the platform and the opportunity on your team, but outside of your team to really believe you. I think they understand that you're being transparent. You're being honest and that you come forward with everything, not just the good,
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:43:07] Ann those are three terrific points. And as you usually are, you always go above and beyond. So, you actually in advance, you answered my next question. I was going to ask what are the three things that you should be doing or absolutely want to do on the branding side. So, you did it both at once. Which is terrific. Now for our listeners out there for those naysayers about branding, here's what you need to know. Stop being a naysayer. Let's be positive about this embrace branding. I'll give you one example. Earlier I was talking about step number seven of the nine-step roadmap, timing, and execution, where you announced to the world that you've done a deal.
And your hope is that your clients and your associates, your team members. They don't go running for the hills. So, the three things that Ann was saying was include everyone. Well absolutely. You include all your stakeholders in your communications, your goals, while you're talking about your goals for the future of why they want to stick around as a customer, why they want to stick around as an associate.
And then being vulnerable. You want to be vulnerable out there. You get asked some tough questions from the associates. I don't know you know, that's a great point. Let me look into that and get back to you.
That being vulnerable isn't weak is actually being strong. It takes a strong person to be vulnerable and say, I don't know, but I'll find out. Let me get back to you on that. So, branding is everywhere. And it's an art that we all must master both for our business and liquidity event.
As we begin to wrap up the interview here and we could just so on and on with all these branding questions, I want to be respected all of your time. I have one question that I ask every guest on the Sell My Business Podcast. The movie Back to the Future.
And in Back to the Future, there was the DeLorean car, which took you back to any point in time. Ann, I want you to imagine that tomorrow morning, you look outside and that DeLorean car is waiting for you. Ann, you can go back to any point in time in your life.
Maybe it's you as a child or Ann, maybe you're a teenager or a young woman or an adult. Whatever it may be. What would you be telling your younger self in terms of lessons learned or life's wisdom or something of inspiration to your younger self if you can go back in time?
Ann Fryer: [00:45:24] That's such a good question. I feel like there's so much advice I would be giving myself. I think it's always trust yourself and your value. I think it's so hard to know what place you play in an organization and in a company and whether you're just starting out or you're 20 years later.
And I don't know, I get so emotional because one of my first bosses, Bob, I won't give his last name, had such an impact on me and who I've become today. And for all your listeners out there just on the impact, you can make so early on, and I'll never forget my first day. He said your opinion is as important as mine.
And I'm going to show you what that means to me. For every single person that walks through this door to interview for some extraordinary roles at our company. And at that point, I was his assistant just to set the tone. He said I want you to spend 15 minutes with them. And obviously, they will be meeting with me or interviewing with me for close to an hour.
And at the end of that, you and I will both on a piece of paper, write down the three things we liked, the three things we didn't. And he said the reason I am asking you to be a part of this process with me is because different people treat people differently based on their role and their title. And he said today, and for the rest of your life, I hope you know the value you bring at any stage.
And it really stuck with me and Jeffrey, and it's something I've carried with me through my whole career. And maybe not completely answering your question, but it's the best advice when I doubted myself on this journey. And I think we wonder how did I get the seat at the table?
Why are people talking to me about X or Y? Should I be on this podcast? I go back to that very moment. What was my first day in the career I've had today and thought, you know what my voice does matter? My opinion does matter. And that I hope everyone here knows, and I hope they know that as we see this incredible younger generation moving up and joining our companies, that we know that they know that a hundred percent, all our voices are equal.
Jeffrey Feldberg: [00:47:58] What a story. Ann what a message that everyone counts, no matter what your station in life and your story just illustrates, you never know who you're speaking to. You just never know if there was an applicant who wasn't straight up with your boss at that time, but put on a good show in an interview, but was incredibly cruel or mean to you. I would suspect that the applicant was not going to be an employee at that company. So, you never know who you're interacting with. Kindness is key. Treat people with respect and kindness. For yourself in terms of who you are, that's your personal brand and for the courtesy too, to them as well.
Thank you, Ann, for sharing that. Ann this has been a true delight. You have shared a wealth of information on branding and strategy, messaging, communication, and even how to be we as a person out there.
So, with that, I know you're incredibly busy. Congratulations again, on your new opportunity at CBS. On behalf of the community, we are delighted and excited for you. Thank you so much for coming on to the Sell My Business Podcast.
Ann Fryer: [00:49:05] Thank you so much for the honor, Jeffrey. So, humbled to be here with you and your incredible listeners. Wishing you the very best stay well. And until we talk again.